What’s next for Douglas Lima?
It’s no secret that the UFC remains the world’s largest and most well-known mixed martial arts organization.
In recent years, however, we’ve seen promotions such as Bellator, RIZIN, ONE and the PFL begin to gain steam on the UFC and because of this, many within the MMA community have found it intriguing to debate how certain fighters outside of the UFC would perform on the sport’s grandest stage.
One fighter who often comes up in these types of conversations is reigning Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima, who’s considered to rank amongst the most talented 170 pounders on the planet. In fact, he recently posed for a photo with UFC titleholder Kamaru Usman, stirring up further discussion on what a possible jump to the UFC could look like for him.
Those ideas will have to be put on hold, however, as it was announced on Monday that Lima had signed a “multi-fight, multi-year” contract extension with Bellator. At 32 years old, there may never be a time that we see Lima in the UFC, but that doesn’t mean that an exciting future doesn’t lie ahead for him in Bellator, as he has options as to what could be next.
With a 32-7 professional record that features an impressive 24 victories by way of finish, Lima has long been seen as one of the elite fighters in his division. Recently, however, he’s been on a hot streak, winning three-straight fights and re-claiming the Bellator welterweight title with a decision victory over Rory MacDonald in a rematch this past October.
As far as who could challenge for his title next, Lima could find himself going down a few different paths. A rematch against Michael “Venom” Page, whom Lima viciously knocked out last May could be in store down the line, as could a rematch against veteran Paul Daley, whom Lima scored a decision victory over in 2016.
In addition, Lorenz Larkin, who suffered a defeat to Lima in his Bellator debut in 2017, has won four-straight fights and is gunning for another shot at gold.
The champion, however, seems to have his sights set on bigger and better opportunities, as he’s taken to social media in recent weeks to tease a potential jump to middleweight, stating that he’d like to challenge for the 185-pound title and allow some of the aforementioned welterweight contenders to fight amongst themselves in order to determine a clear-cut No. 1 contender.
And while the idea of champions jumping from weight class to weight class in search of more belts has seemingly become a somewhat stale idea in MMA, it may make sense in this case.
First off, the Bellator middleweight title is currently vacant, as Rafael Lovato Jr. was forced to relinquish the strap this week due to medical issues. The division must now move on and there isn’t a clear fight to make to determine a champion.
Ex-champion Gegard Mousasi, who lost a majority decision to Lovato last year, would seemingly fight for the vacant title, as he’s won nine of his last 10 bouts aside from the loss to Lovato. Aside from Mousasi, former UFC champion Lyoto Machida is the most well-known and most accomplished fighter in the division, though the two just fought last year with Mousasi scoring a split-decision victory.
Mousasi and Machida also fought once prior to that in 2014 when “The Dragon” got the nod, so Bellator could sell the idea of a trilogy between the two.
However, Bellator President Scott Coker has been laser-focused on building the promotion up ever since he took over in 2014 and the way to do that is to put on fresh and exciting fights between recognizable names. To that end, Lima and Mousasi are without question two of the most well-known fighters on the Bellator roster.
Stylistically, the bout would likely be exciting as well and at this point, Lima moving up doesn’t seem like it’d cause too much of an issue in terms of holding up the welterweight division.
Ultimately, a bout between Douglas Lima and Gegard Mousasi may be Bellator’s best bet.